The Odd, Little Happy

Finally I dance with confidence to songs

The New Adventure & the Open Road

Posted by theBarefoot on July 15, 2015


We’ve done what many people our age do…joined the RV crowd. As empty-nesters, we decided that dragging a 30-foot trailer with us on our journeys was a good thing. I just wanted a pickup truck. Little did I know it came with a travel trailer.

We bought a Forest River Coachman 50th Anniversary Edition of their Apex 269RBSS model. There are bigger RVs out there, but it’s a monster to me since I’m the one who has to wrestle the thing down the highway.

We gave it some thought and decided to document our travels on a Youtube channel dedicated just to our new adventure. A video from our first outing is already up at We’re Fixin’ To Camp. Maybe you like it. Maybe you subscribe and watch us bumble our way into the woods and wilderness of America.

We’re chasing the odd, little happy in a little comfort and style.

Posted in camping, RVing, travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An Open Letter to the Zale’s Corporation

Posted by theBarefoot on July 7, 2015


After I took my wife to a doctor’s appointment and had a nice lunch with my bride, we took the opportunity to retrieve some opal earrings that had recently come back to our local Zale’s from the repair shop. Here is what transpired and the email I sent to Zale’s via their website’s customer service form.

7 July 2015, just after noon,

I stopped by your Madison Square Mall, Huntsville, AL location to pick up a pair of repaired, opal earrings. A well-armed man working there, wearing a nice .45 caliber model 1911, ask me, per store policy, to return my sidearm to my car. What this says to me is that your company feels the need to protect its property, but once it is mine, you don’t feel that it needs the same protections. The most likely place I could be robbed is carrying a Zale’s bag from the store to my car, yet you feel that I should not have the same protection that your store has.

There’s no need to try to explain your no-guns policy to me. The simple fact is I don’t feel safe shopping at your stores now since I can’t protect my purchases in the same way you see fit to protect your merchandise. A brain-dead, no-thought, zero-tolerance, no-guns policy is ridiculous. I wasn’t suspiciously browsing. I presented my driver’s license as I greeted the sales associate. I happily would have shown your manager my license to legally carry a handgun if he had asked. I happily would have shown him my Zale’s credit card and he could have checked the substantial credit limit on it.

Instead, I was mindlessly asked to leave the store and return unarmed. I stepped outside the store, into the mall area and finished my transaction from there. A silly technicality, especially since the transaction required my signature, but I was unable to access the digital pad from the mall. I was given a paper alternative and left with my wife’s earrings.

I’m a long-time customer whom you’ve now alienated from your stores. The substantial credit line that you have extended me will now lie dormant.

Before you go off with “here’s another gun nut who wants to wave his gun in people’s faces,” you should know that I’m licensed to carry. I was carrying concealed, but recent weight loss tends to let my holster slip down with my pants so it shows a bit under my untucked shirt tail. My philosophy is along the lines of “love me, love my dog.” If you love my money, you’ll respect my choice to wear my sidearm, especially if you are doing the same.

This isn’t so much about my right to carry whenever, wherever I want. It’s about the idea that Zale’s feels the need to protect their merchandise with their 2nd Amendment rights, but would deny me the same option when their merchandise becomes my property. I didn’t bother telling Zale’s that last week I was in two banks where either the employees didn’t notice or didn’t care that I had a .357 on my hip.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy even if you have to shop elsewhere.

UPDATE (15 July 2015): Zale’s made no attempt to reply to my email. I guess that’s their standard procedure when confronted with this double standard. Goodbye, Zale’s. It’s been fun.

Posted in 2nd Amendment, Commerce, Rights | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Dashcam Chronicles: Illegal Passing

Posted by theBarefoot on May 27, 2015


I have a dashcam for several reasons. One, I’d like to have proof in court if I get a bogus traffic ticket. Two, it helps with insurance claims if there are questions about what happened. But, three, and the most important reason, it’s an endless source of entertainment and a record to just how idiotic people are when they drive.

Here’s the latest example of a driver who thought my wife pulled out a little to closely ahead of him on a 45 mph (~65kph) road. His little road rage tantrum manifests in a dangerous illegal pass (that’ll show her) only to be, you guessed it, stopped by the next traffic light with the person he just tried to run off the road.

But a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a million-word video that captured the event.

Keep chasing the odd, little, happy.

Posted in Autos, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

California Infant Dies after 8 Vaccines? Needles in Needles, CA.

Posted by theBarefoot on March 1, 2015


Today, let’s discuss one of the latest Facebook memes currently being spread by a particular subset of the site’s membership. The headline is California Infant Dies after 8 Vaccines, Family Gets Him Back from Hospital Cremated” and it’s attributed to a site called VacTruth.com (among others). You are more than encouraged to read the full article linked above. I’ll wait because I’m about to pick it apart and tell you why this is the largest load of horse manure you’ve seen since Biff ran into that truck in Back to the Future.

needleI’ll summarize for those in a hurry. It tells the tale of the Downing-Powers family of Needles, California whose 5.5 month-old son, Michael, died after being given too many vaccines. It seems he was taken late for his 4-month check-up, but too early for his 6-month, so the doctor decided to give him both sets of vaccinations in one sitting. Michael died, his body was cremated at the hospital, and the family was never given the coroner’s report as to the cause of death.

So why does this heartbreaking story deserve space on this blog? Because it’s pure, grade-A, fresh-from-the-field bullshit.

What is True?
Every good lie needs a coating of truth to make palatable. There is a White Pages entry for Downing-Powers on Elm Street in Needles, CA. The Colorado River Medical Center is indeed just a couple of blocks away. Those are the only two facts from the entire article I could verify.

Google Goggle
Google search results bring back only an incestuous circle-jerk of anti-vax and conspiracy sites all citing each other in a dubious round-robin of non-credible, slanted sources. The only non-anti-vax hits in the results are gullible, Facebook postings and dangerous, fund-raising campaigns.

In a Land Far, Far Away
There is no mention of the event in the local news. Searching the Mohave Valley Daily News site yields zero results. Where is the local media? If this story was about a coroner’s office stonewalling grieving parents, wouldn’t the first place they turned be the local media? However, if this is a concocted story meant to support anti-vax claims, why involve the locals? A local investigation would only torpedo the so-called facts. The lack of a local source for the story is glaring.

Follow the Money
There is more than one online fund-raising campaign for the family though they never appear to have asked for any money. The administration of these campaigns aren’t local to the Needles, CA area, either. One is based as far away as Virginia. I’m skeptical that any money donated will ever reach the Downing-Powers family.

While we’re on the money trail, where is the law suit? In a country were we sue dry cleaners for damaged pants, an egregious act such as this should have lawyers salivating to take the case. There is no mention of any legal action against the doctor, the hospital, or the coroner.

A Mother’s Plea
The section of the article claiming to be in the mother’s own words sounds nothing like a grieving parent. It is, however, sprinkled with cues and code words that are the hallmarks of anti-vax sites around the net.

For example, “After the shots, he didn’t have a fever or a low grade one.” Regardless of the awkward grammar, “low-grade fever” is often used by anti-vaxxers as proof that vaccines are not harmless.

“I started blaming my self and still do because I never took the time…” This is a typical reaction by parents when their child dies. It is also a carefully constructed sentence designed to appeal to parental guilt for having needles jabbed into their baby’s arm. It stands out as an obvious ploy to get fence-sitters to come down on the side of anti-vaccination.

“I went the doctor’s office recently and found out the nurse that injected Matthew is no longer working there. I was told she got fired because she didn’t know what she was doing when giving vaccines.” Wow! That doctor’s staff just violated about a dozen HIPAA and employment laws. Who in their right mind would tell a client such specific information about an employee’s firing, especially when it could be used to fuel an explosive, in not class-action, law suit? Besides, it’s not the nurse who decides what vaccines to give. The nurse only executes the injection authorized by the doctor. “She didn’t know what she was doing” only tells us she didn’t know how to perform an injection, something taught in year one of nursing school, and something even I have become quite adept at after assisting my wife with her home-health needs.

Much of the mother’s account is taken up with her exasperation over not getting the autopsy results. By law, coroner’s reports in California are public records. If the report exists (see #2, below), it is a simple thing to write, fax, or personally request these public records. The multiple, frustrated attempts to obtain the report make no sense unless we are being lead to believe there is a cover-up. (Spoiler alert: That’s exactly what we’re being lead to believe.) The article title already planted the seeds of conspiracy with “Family Gets Him Back from Hospital Cremated.”

The final paragraphs, still written as if they are a plea from a grieving mother, switch gears too abruptly. They begin by urging people to fight pending state legislation and end with this clear, anti-vaxxer appeal “Why do mild cases involving the measles get reported all over the news, but not babies dying after getting the MMR shot or other vaccinations?” First, measles is not a mild disease. It kills 2.6 million people, mostly children, every year. It blinds, deafens, and cripples millions more. Second, the news doesn’t report death from vaccines because it rarely happens and they’re just not looking for it. Someone needs to bring it to their attention and, in this case, no one has. This poor woman has just indicted herself in the complacent cover-up of the silent vaccine killer conspiracy.

Other Red Flags

  1. No doctor would combine 4 and 6-month vaccines. That would be medical malpractice and no doctor would expose their business to being bankrupted by a law suit for such a blatantly illegal procedure.
  2. The infant’s death supposedly took place in October 2013. Sixteen months is a long time to wait before going public. It’s also just long enough for the coroner’s autopsy report to be archived off-line and not available on the San Bernardino Sheriff’s website.
  3. The article is laced with bad grammar and forced-fed with anti-vax slogans. Even the mother’s signature is wonky. “Love Your Momma, [line break] Crystal Downing-Powers.” That is an imperative statement, not a closing of a letter. It should rightly be, “Love, [line break] Your Momma, Crystal Downing-Powers.” Still, what mother uses her full name when addressing a child?
  4. This gem that is in no way something a grieving mother would say: “It is beyond disturbing that bought politicians think they can choose what gets injected into our children. They don’t care about your child’s health. Clearly many are dying and getting injured from these vaccines and they turn a blind eye.” County and State health concerns are usually based on scientific research and reviewed by doctors hired to do due diligence when recommending statewide vaccine and other medical guidelines. They certainly do care about health and are apolitical in their recommendations. Also, many are not dying or being injured from vaccines. The vast majority of vaccinated people lead healthy, happy lives free from the worry of catching a deadly disease.
  5. “There are a lot more parents out there like me. Some don’t come forward due to [sic] fact they are afraid of what people would say. Sometimes people can be really cruel and not understand what parents like me go through.” Besides that grammatically reading like a caveman grunted it out, it is clearly designed to throw down the conspiracy gauntlet. We are supposed to believe there is a vast sea of dead and injured children in America whose deaths are being covered up by Big Pharma. The same Big Pharma that profits less than a dollar per vaccination. Furthermore, we are to believe in this conspiracy because websites selling us homeopathic snake oils, gluten-free water substitutes, and Jenny McCarthy tee-shirts are telling use it’s all about the money. Well, that much I believe. Groucho Marx
  6. This shining star, off-set as its own paragraph in the middle of recounting the encounter with the doctor’s office, “I want to tell other parents, they say vaccinations are safe, but in reality, they aren’t.” Therein lies the crux of the article. It’s not about justice for a grieving family. It’s not about government incompetency. It’s not about medical malpractice. It’s about the dangers of vaccines. We are to believe that this family is not seeking justice for their son’s death. They just want to get the word out that vaccines are dangerous. Buy a bridge, anyone?

This story holds about as much water as Noah’s colander. It is a poorly, fictionalized account of an event that cannot be proven nor is any attempt made to prove the so-called facts presented. We all like a good story, especially when it reinforces our established beliefs. That is what this is, a story to give anti-vaxxers something to cite when they’re doing their “research.” It is less believable than Wakefield’s MMR-causes-autism report.

If you will excuse me, I have to go park my car in the huge holes in this article. If it turns out that I’m just an old, hardhearted, skeptical curmudgeon and I’m completely wrong about all this, I’ll eat a pizza.

Bonus clip:

 

If all that wasn’t enough, you can watch me rant about this on the Youtubes.


Edited:
This story that predates the article in question by 2 months has eerily similar circumstances, but the setting is South Africa. Oddly, it was apparently reported by the same site, VacTruth.com as the current story. http://www.activistpost.com/2013/08/five-month-old-baby-dies-just-days.html and the original from vactruth.com http://vactruth.com/2013/08/17/baby-dies-after-8-vaccines/

Posted in Health, Skeptic | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Talent Overload

Posted by theBarefoot on February 22, 2015


I don’t know how it started, but I’ve over-indulged on The Voice, X Factor, and ____’s Got Talent, videos on Youtube this weekend. I’ve never watched these shows on TV. I’ve only seen clips online. I know that they are designed to reinforce our worship of celebrity, but I discovered something just the opposite.

If you watch more than 10 of these clips, you soon realize that there is nothing special about the so-called celebrities we worship. There are people in your town who have amazing voices. Some exponentially better than people who regularly sell platinum albums. There are waiters and shoe salesmen who go home every night and belt out incredible covers of pop songs while vacuuming the rug or washing dishes.

And it’s not just singing voices. There are people next to you at stop lights or standing beside you on the subway who have untapped talents that would floor you. You may even be one of those people. Just because you never get to audition for American Idol doesn’t make your talent any less valuable than last season’s winner.

What I would urge everyone to do is stop blindly believing the cult of personality we’ve been taught to follow. Start getting to know the people you see everyday. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a hidden talent, share it where and when you can. Sing at the bus stop. Juggle for your nieces and nephews. Give a picture you paint to a friend or neighbor. Put yourself out there and share. We all have something we do well. Don’t hide it. Do it well for people you meet everyday.

Somewhere along the way, while chasing the odd, little happy, you’ll catch moments of unbridled joy.

Posted in Advice, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Unsolicited and Unprofessional Relationship Advice for You

Posted by theBarefoot on February 4, 2015


Five tips (I hate the overused “Life Hacks” phrase, but life hacks, if you prefer) to make your relationships better and longer-lasting. I’m not a professional counselor and this is probably the worst advice you’ll ever hear, but, hey, you’ve tried everything else and Match.com has banned all four of your profiles. So if you were rejected from eHarmony for answering their preliminary question “What do you want in a woman?” with “MY PENIS!!!1!!”, then you might as well give this brief video a listen.

Unsolicited and Unprofessional Relationship Advice for You 

Posted in humor, Life, relationships, video, vlog | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Stranger’s Touch

Posted by theBarefoot on December 21, 2014


Getting dumped sucks. Getting dumped the week before Christmas is even worse, but it happens. It happened to a woman I’m very close to. She’s my youngest daughter. It breaks a father’s heart to see his little girl in pain, but it makes a father proud to see how maturely his little girl can handle such a sorry situation.

On December 19, 2014, after just recovering from a flu, she collected herself well enough to return some of the Christmas presents she no longer needed. Here’s what she said about her trip to Belk’s department store.

Tonight, I stopped by Belk to return some clothes I had bought for Now Ex-Boyfriend. When the guy asked me why I wanted to return them I said “I lost about 350lbs from the time I ordered them,” and started to cry. He looked confused, but a nearby saleswoman must have overheard and caught on because she came over and held my hand until my transaction was complete and I ran out of the store because I was so embarrassed. I should have told her thank you because that was such an amazingly nice thing to for a stranger. I wish I knew her names because I would totally write Belk customer service about it.

helping hands

Helping Hands

Dear Belk’s,

Please accept my gratitude for having such a lovely lady on staff in your Huntsville, Alabama store at Bridgestreet. I don’t know her name. I don’t even know what department she works in. I only know that her act of kindness made an impression. Though my daughter was embarrassed, she, too, was deeply touched by this small gesture of kindness. I hope your employee is found and recognized for her act. If she is or is not, I will pay it forward.

To all those hurting,
To all those in pain,
To all those in need,
To all those laughing,
To all those crying,
To all those joyous,
To all those at peace,
Merry Christmas to all those, everywhere.

Posted in Christmas, Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Our Schizophrenic Approach to Ebola and Drugs

Posted by theBarefoot on October 30, 2014


The Tiger in the Wind

The official government thinking on how to deal with Ebola is not to restrict travel or incarcerate (quarantine) people because, the logic goes, it will drive Ebola underground. People will hide their symptoms, not seek treatment, and end up spreading the disease further afield. Sounds perfectly reasonable and logical, but this is a 180 degree turn from the government’s approach to other, similar outbreaks.

Fear Ignorance Hate

Fear Ignorance Hate

Let’s take, for example, the outbreak of drug use which, by the way, hasn’t changed as a percentage of the population since war was declared by President Nixon in the 1970s. The government very much threatens incarceration and restricts travel, AKA arrests people, when it comes to drugs. What has this policy accomplished? The exact results the government warns will happen to Ebola if it is treated the same way. Drugs are driven underground into a black-market economy. Users who wish to kick their habits are afraid to seek treatment due to fear of being put in prison. People hide their drug-use symptoms and end up perpetuating drug use. This fear-based policy to illegal drugs is now spreading to legal, prescription drugs as this latter classification have now surpassed illegal drugs in causes of drug-related deaths.

I can’t say which is the proper approach to either problem, but I can say the government, AKA the people, need to be consistent in their treatment of problems with such parallels. We need more logic, consistency, reason, and analysis in our government, but that doesn’t sell votes or commercials near as well as fear, reactionism, paranoia, and schizophrenia. Why do we let this continue?

Because, we are herd animals who react to the rustle in the grass as if it was a tiger, not the wind. We are descended from a long line of cowardly idiots who always thought the rustle was a tiger. After all, if it was just the wind, running away didn’t hurt. If what they thought was the wind, turned out to be a tiger, well let’s just say, “Their genes didn’t make it to the next generation.”

Maybe it’s time we suppressed our primal, genetic urges to see a tiger in every gust of wind and started evolving to use reason and logic. Maybe. But I’m just a guy with a keyboard. What the hell do I know?

Posted in disease, drugs, govenment, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cognitive Dissonance in Law Enforcement

Posted by theBarefoot on October 9, 2014


There are two stories in the headlines over the past few weeks that are the textbook definition of cognitive dissonance – the ability to hold two conflicting opinions within the same mind. The stories both involve police and the CD-afflicted are police participating in online forums discussing the stories. You never see the two discussed simultaneously, which is why the people involved are able to so easily suspend logic.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

The first story is the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. The second story comes from Pennsylvania where Eric Frein allegedly shot two PA State Troopers, killing one. The stories follow similar events and have comparable levels of details available to the public. Those details aren’t important to this essay. What is important are the reactions and comments police officer make about the two cases.

The dichotomy of comments from police can generally be summed up with, “Cops are always right.” When the Ferguson shooting is discussed, the comments are almost always peppered with racism and/or classism, as in, “Why don’t those animals get jobs instead of protesting on my tax money?” (This is an ironic statement in itself since police are paid with taxes.) When the Pennsylvania case is discussed, it’s always with summary judgement, as in, “No trial needed. Put a bullet in his head.”

Both cases involve identical acts of violence against another human being, but because in Ferguson, the shooter wore blue, he is automatically given a pass, even given money, by cops and cop supporters. In Pennsylvania, the victim wore blue, so there is a three-county manhunt ongoing for almost a month and the shooter is prejudged by those wearing the blue. Both discussions are laced with prejudicial comments distorted through the blue glasses of law enforcers. Therein lies the cognitive dissonance. Take away the uniforms in both cases and neither would be worth discussing at all in the eyes of the police community because to them civilians are all basically cattle.

Typical comment on the Ferguson situation

Typical comment on the Ferguson situation

Odd, but typical comment on Frein shooting

Odd, but typical comment on Frein shooting

Not all police are fitted with the glowing halo of hero-dom they so enjoy bestowing on themselves. Not all opposition voices have criminal records or hate all police either. Some of us just have no use for cops.

Posted in crime, law, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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